Kent Biomass project, plays key upskill role

Written by Annie Lloyd

Pettit Recruitment Solutions have been busy at work, promoting the growth of Kent based construction workers on Kent based projects and their persistence seems to be paying dividends for many young men and women in the County.

The company, whose Managing Director Elena Chamberlain- is up for KWIBA ‘Kent Business Woman of the Year’, is part of our wider civil engineering Pettit Group of companies. Elena and her team have been working very closely with well publicised construction projects in the area, including Dover Western Docks and Kent Renewable Energy’s Biomass plant in Sandwich to push their ‘Kentish Upskill’ promotion aimed at career progression of young people in the Civil Engineering and Construction industry.

Based at Discovery Park, Pettit Recruitment Solutions have successfully assisted upskill and employment of over 70 local young men and women into the industry over the past year, from Kent areas with highest youth unemployment including Margate, Ramsgate and Dover, to progress their employability in demolition, highways work, mechanical & electrical installation and site health & safety.

Their most recent assignment for Danish based company, Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractors (BWSC)- the main contractor appointed by Kent Renewable Energy Ltd in the build of the Biomass project in Sandwich, has proved to be very positive for local young people determined to make construction their career of choice. Over the past 18 months, BWSC and Pettit’s have invested in the upskill of local construction workers in the form of sponsorship of Health & Safety accreditations and CPCS plant qualifications, with those successfully completing qualifications given the opportunity to put their skills to the test, completing construction of the £160 million Biomass build.

Pettit Group co-owner, Simon Pettit, explained: “We have been working extremely hard to promote Construction and Civil Engineering as a positive career path and first option for school leavers in Kent. We have suffered a severe shortage of project management professionals, skilled engineers and tradesmen to cope with the amount of investment in infrastructure projects in recent years. The soon to be completed Biomass project for Kent Renewable Energy, in my opinion has been a shining example of a combined approach to upskill people willing to learn, in close proximity to such projects.

“Credit must be given to BWSC in the way they approached this project, utilising local skills where possible with a local company, when the recent trend for large projects has been to engage national companies without such commitment to local supply. Elena and her recruitment team worked tirelessly to ensure the project ran with minimal complication and to ensure BWSC’s decision to engage with us over the UK’s largest companies, was the right one.

“Many local young people- some of which were struggling to find regular work previously, have gained qualifications and invaluable experience on a multi-million-pound project that they can now take on to any such project in the UK and further should they wish. We are now pushing hard to show other main contractors with projects in Kent, that this can be a great approach.

“It has been well documented that there is a skills shortage in the Civil Engineering and Construction industry and we are working very closely with the main colleges in Kent to address this over the coming years, so that we can further grow utilisation of the Kent labour force on Kent projects”

The BWSC Resident Project Manager, Erik Pedersen, stated “Elena and her team have been very professional and responsive to our requirements when supplying Engineering Construction trades people. We have found that the flexibility offered by a local company with access to the local resource base has been very helpful to the project”.

The Kent Renewable Energy Limited General Manager Colin Dobson added “It is very pleasing that the construction of our Biomass plant in Kent has benefited workers in the local community. Their involvement in the construction phase has seen a number of them securing long term employment with the Operations and Maintenance contractor who will be operating the facility on our behalf”.

The Kent Renewable Energy Biomass CHP commissioning is underway with Grid connection expected this year, for more information email:

For further details on a career in construction and civil engineering please visit or call 01304 802720